Ask a handful of published authors or better yet, go to a local book signing and discover why book tours aren’t a must for most authors. Unless you have an established following or are part of a larger group such as a YA panel, a book signing may be a bust. Bookstores depend on authors to bring in a crowd and often underestimate attendance. I represented a Nashville author who wanted help arranging his book launch. The large-chain bookstore underestimated attendance and had to ask him to bring an extra box of books for the signing. If not for his personal following and our combined publicity efforts, he might be like the majority of authors who show up to only a handful of dedicated fans.
Why bother with a social media campaign?
Today’s industry standard includes a social media campaign. I know, I know, you’re a writer not a Facebook positor of trivialities or a “Tweeter” of the banal. But, believe me when I say that publishing contracts are sometimes awarded to those who have built a large fan base proving that people are interested in them and what they have to say. Start with social media that you like and that makes sense for you. Make sure you’re targeting your audience – Facebook is known to be popular with women, Google+ with men. Today’s book publicity is fueled by social media. Try it – you might like it.
Media outreach isn’t important
Let’s face it – it’s hard to sell yourself. Everyone (or almost everyone) has trouble with self-promotion. But if you’re self-published or even if you aren’t, media outreach is a crucial part of standing out in your community and in the larger book world. Not only should you seek stories about yourself and your book or books but also the crucial reviews that can help launch you onto a larger platform.
You have to be on Oprah to achieve success
This is a famous battle cry for wanna be top-selling authors. The gold stamp of approval is being endorsed by Oprah and it is, of course. It’s just really, really hard to achieve and an unrealistic goal for a beginning or modestly successful author. Yes, it’s important to reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground, too. Look for media opportunities in your local community or groups. Branch out from there with targeted outreach to media in ever widening circles and don’t give up. It’s usually just when you want to quit that you get that exciting phone call from a journalist or radio show host who is interested in interviewing you.
Garner book reviews by badgering reviewers
Reviewers are people, too, and usually very busy people. Treat these contacts with respect similarly to journalists who have limited time to find out about you unless you and your book are interesting to them. Find out if the reviewer covers your genre and work to develop a relationship with him or her. Send a personalized email asking if he would like a copy of your book (and in what format) and then follow-up. It’s a waste of a good book if you send it to a reviewer who isn’t interested or just doesn’t have time.
Book publicity isn’t selling
As an author, especially a self-published author, you are an entrepreneur with a product to sell. What you need to do is become comfortable with the process. Whether you’re promoting your book through social media, media outreach, with a book tour or signing, or by giving talks in your community and at conferences, you’re selling. And, the best part is that it’s something that you’re passionate about. Get out there and have fun!